When my kids were younger I was looking for any rope to hold onto. Linda and I would read books about strong willed children, training children, shepherding their hearts, and any other thing that seemed to offer wisdom and action.
Now that all of my children but one have moved on to adulthood, I know much LESS about parenting than I knew back then. When I was younger I expected a much more direct correlation between my example and outcomes. I believe that this is partly due to the fact that the people with “pristine appearing” families are often the ones who get to write the books! They just might give themselves more credit than they deserve . . . Because ‘cause and effect’ right?
How many people have sought to be good godly examples to their children and found that they do not get to write books about 12 keys to successful parenting because things didn’t turn out so well!?
I am not seeking to burst bubbles or express any amount if fatalism. But I am writing to suggest that while we are tempted to think that we are in charge of the trajectory of the life of our children . . . ‘Results may vary’. Parents matter. And our effort can certainly hobble our children or smooth the pathway for our children.
But I hope I don’t catch anyone off guard by saying that our children have a will of their own! And further, and more fundamental, is that our lives are NOT driven by impersonal fate, but by a very personal and sovereign God who our children must relate to on their own.
With all of this said, I will now communicate the only thing I have done for my children that I think has eternal value. I have prayed for them. I have made it a point to regularly, routinely, and tenaciously set my kids before God asking for their health, joy, salvation, peace, protection, and many other things.
And the byproduct of these prayers has not been a specific answer to those specific prayers. Instead, the primary value is kinda funny in an ironic way. I have spent what must amount to months of time spent in prayer over the past 20 years, and the most beneficial result is the knowledge that I have prayed for my children. I have given them over to the God that has created them. I have spent many mornings reminding myself that they are His. I have reminded myself that their success in life depends fundamentally on what God desires to do in them and through them. And that might require some hard things. That might require some humbling seasons. That might require some tears and struggle.
I have felt guilt over things I could’ve done better. I have had a fair share of wishes spent, longing for mulligans. I am in no position to write a book about how to parent. But I can commend prayer as a pathway to increased peace at my stage of life.
Any good that may come from the life of my children is a credit to God and His grace! I would consider it dangerous to suggest that praying like me, acting like me, or following my simple 12 point model would produce the same results in YOUR children.
And yet I AM suggesting that prayer is a primary pathway of holding less tightly to things that we often over-own. Prayer releases us from our relentless tendency to over-control, and reminds us to trust in the one who IS TRULY in control. From this standpoint, I would commend all parents to pray for their children. It has kept me sane, during these years of discovering how little I know about producing ‘perfect children’.